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Tips for Hip Mobility

Monday, August 14, 2023

Keeping your hips mobile is the best way to avoid unnecessary stress on your knees, low back, and shoulders. It is vital to have a solid routine that keeps your hips flexible and ready for action.

Why is Hip Mobility Important?

The hip joints are the 500-horsepower engine of your body. The largest muscles of the body cross the hip joint. The hips are involved in most of the movements that you perform every day. Whether you are bending over to pick something up, reaching up to put something on a high shelf, playing golf, or working out - your hips are dictating the efficiency of your body’s ability to perform all those movements.

Most of the knees, back, and shoulder problems I have rehabbed over the last two decades involved a certain level of hip restriction and imbalance.

If you do not have a hip stretching protocol that works, there is no better time to start with one.

The most important goal of any stretch protocol is to balance the body's right and left sides. The first step is to assess the symmetry between one hip and the other.

Assessing Hip Balance Functionality

You can do a simple, functional assessment on yourself to assess hip balance. This means it assesses how your hips work with and through the other body regions instead of an isolated assessment of the hip itself.

This functional assessment involves assessing your Squat in three different foot positions. These simple movements can tell you a lot about the current state of your hips. It does require you to be tuned into your body, observe physical sensations, and note any signs of pain, tightness, or imbalances.

Follow these steps:

  • ​Stand shoulder width apart with both feet pointing forward and parallel to one another
  • ​Begin to hinge forward at your hips as if you were about to sit down on a chair. Allow the knees to bend as a result of the hips flexing. Try to drop your hips down to the level of a chair.
  • ​Repeat this 5-10x and pay attention to what you feel in your hips, back, knees, and feet. Take notice of the effort needed to get down and back up and the weight distribution between your feet.
  • ​Repeat the same movement with your RIGHT FOOT slightly ahead of your LEFT FOOT for 5-10 reps. Again, take note of what you are feeling and how it may be different from when your feet were parallel.
  • ​Repeat the same movement with your LEFT FOOD slightly ahead of your RIGHT FOOT for 5-10 reps. Take note of what you feel and observe, but now compare it to the other two movements.

These movements should feel similar if your right and left legs are balanced. If you notice big differences between the three Squats, there is a good chance your hips are out of balance.

Because it is a functional assessment, other players will influence your results. The other key player in these movements is the foot and ankle complex. If you have severe restrictions in one or both ankles, this will be reflected in your hips, and hip mobility exercises are still necessary.

Interested in getting a Biomechanical Movement Assessment from Matt? Click here to find out how.

BEST HIP MOBILITY EXERCISES TO START WITH

The new virtual world adopted since COVID makes us more sedentary than ever. This is the PRIMO environment for tightening up the hips.

To counteract this, incorporating specific mobilization techniques can help loosen up the hips and enhance mobility.
Here are the top two hip mobilization techniques to prepare your hips for action. I will share one foam rolling technique and one of my Sniper Stretches for the hips.

NOTE: I refer to these types of stretches as “Sniper Stretching” because of the precision of the techniques. Most stretching techniques are focused on someone getting through a range of motion globally. Sniper stretches focus on specific joint motion and the sequencing of the joint motion throughout the body. For more information on Sniper Stretching, check out this video.

Posterior Hip Foam Rolling

  • ​Sit on top of your foam roller with arms resting on the floor behind you
  • ​Cross one leg over the other so your lower leg is perpendicular to your thigh. (If you are crossing your right leg over your left, it would be your right lower leg being perpendicular to your left thigh)
  • ​Shift your weight to the leg you crossed over’s butt cheek (right leg crossed over, shift weight to right butt cheek)
  • ​Grab the knee of the crossed-over leg with the opposite hand (right leg crossed over, grab with the left hand.)
  • ​Slowly roll on that butt check, looking for tender areas.
  • ​Once you find a tender area, stay on it for a few seconds and envision the muscle starting to melt and relax.
  • ​Repeat on all tender areas and the repeat process on other hip

Anterior Hip Stretch

  • ​Find a comfortable place, close to a wall, to kneel on the floor. Yoga mats or carpet work well.
  • ​With your back to the wall, place one knee on the floor and the other leg flexed out in front of you with your foot flat on the ground.
  • ​Ensure your rear foot is directly behind the kneeling knee, and place your toes on the wall.
  • ​Push your toes into the wall as if you were attempting to press the wall away from you.
  • ​Ensure the front leg is straight out in front of you, and you have your foot/ankle and knee at about 90-degree angles.
  • ​Once in position, rock your pelvis -forward like you are sticking your butt out, then rock your pelvis in the other direction like you are tucking your tail between your legs.
    The goal is to get your pelvis to move independently from your femur by slowly tipping the pelvis upward, creating hip extension.
  • ​You can also slide your pelvis slide to side and turn your pelvis to the right and to the left, to stimulate dissociation of your hip laterally and rotationally. Make sure your kneeling down leg stays still while moving your pelvis.
  • ​Always compare right to left - the goal is to create symmetry between right and left. Spent more time on the side that is more restricted as an attempt to restore balance.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I DO THE STRETCHES?

My general recommendation is first thing in the morning and once in the evening. These stretches can also be done before and after activity and before and after hours of inactivity (sitting.)

The Squats are also good to do after performing the stretches so that you can keep track of the improvements in the balance of your hips.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Prioritizing hip mobility can significantly impact overall well-being by giving you access to your 500-horsepower engine.

Committing to keeping your hips mobile and symmetrical will also help with common neck, shoulders, low back, and knees aches.

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Who is Matt LaBosco

I am a integrated holistic health professional that has empowered thousands of individuals over the last two decades to optimize their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being, I am obsessed with empowering myself and others to embody the principles of vitality and no longer settle for the current traditional models of "health."

You can work with me virtually or at my office located in Palm Beach Gardens, FL.

Services include:
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